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POLL - Stopped while taking pictures

Discussion in 'Weekly Poll' started by Damien_Demolder, Mar 21, 2009.


Survey of use of video facility on digital compact/bridge

  1. I don't have a still camera with video option

    0 vote(s)
  2. I have at least one still camera with video option but have never used it seriously

    0 vote(s)
  3. Have used video option occasionally

    0 vote(s)
  4. Have used video option frequently

    0 vote(s)
  5. Have only fiddled to see what it's like

    0 vote(s)
  6. Only want to see the result of this poll

    0 vote(s)
  1. elfriclongarm

    elfriclongarm Well-Known Member

    Watcha All,
    I've never been stopped, accosted, harassed, or otherwise. I once had a PCSO apologize for getting in the way, I moved my tripod to let her through; and there are always those annoying:) kids saying, 'take me picture mister'. Once a bunch of polite teenagers in kayaks asked me if my Shen Hao was a really old camera, other than that, no problems, ever.
  2. ermintrude

    ermintrude Hinkypuff

    Well yes it would, but is anyone actually doing that? :D
  3. Still_Togging_Along

    Still_Togging_Along In the Stop Bath

    As pointed elsewhere on the AP website and in newspapers recently, with Google digitally imaging areas of the UK, are the Security Services also actively 'vetting' what they are recording? If they are NOT, surely this just confirms how one-sided and biased officials are against photographers?
  4. mike_j

    mike_j Well-Known Member

    The nearest I have come to being questioned is at St Pancras when I was told that flash photography was not allowed. As I had an old clockwork film camera with no flash this was not a problem.

    I was a little worried when I walked though our local town centre last Sunday with a camera slung round my neck but one of the pair of PCSO's I met just nodded pleasantly and said 'Good Morning', the other ignored me.

    To be fair, it wasn't the camera that concerned me but the Victorian cavalry sword that I was carrying. It was in a black poly bag and I had a genuine reason for carrying it but you never know - it could have been mistaken for a lethal chair leg.
  5. RonaldWalford

    RonaldWalford Member

    Yes, three years ago I was stopped by a PCSO at around 7,30 in the evening of Guy Fawkes night. As I entered the display ground (after paying entrance fee) he ordered me "not to take the camera out of its bag on pain of arrest by uniformed PC." He gave no reason but emphasised threat of immediate arrest. Yet plenty of small silver compact cameras around, most with flash, all allowed to shoot.

    Fair comment though: on 2 or 3 occasions I was advised, not threatened, by proper PCs not to photograph young vandals in the act of committing crimes because these vandals would sue me for collecting images of under-age minors. The PCs agreed that such photos would be extremely valuable to police but they didn't want to see me arrested because of complaints by these street-hardened minors.

    My strong impression is that PCSOs are under-trained and have to make a show of authority, whereas the real police are far more self-confident and are happy to advise rather than threaten if the "offender" is obviously not a criminal (eg, I'm 78 and don't look a day over 100).

    But currently I am shooting the local (Dartford) War Memorial for Roy Brit Legion's Poppy Day in November: this means I lurk around parkland all evening with a huge black camera (D300) and so am open to all sorts of police brutality. So I've contacted the local council to explain what I'm doing and they are extremely co-operative and have half-promised to either prevent my arrest or visit me in jail.

    You've published 2 letters from me on this topic (including current issue), thanks

  6. Kettering_Jeremy

    Kettering_Jeremy Well-Known Member

    Yes I have been stopped by a PCSO. It was in Trafalgar Square, and what raised their suspicion was my use of a tripod. I explained that it was necessary to keep the camera still while taking bracketed exposures for use in HDR imaging. I was not asked to put my tripod away.

    The PCSO said that I was in the security area, and had been picked up on CCTV, and that I would have been likely to be pounced on even quicker had I ventured up Whitehall toward Downing Street similarly equipped.

    I volunteered to show my photographs, but that offer was not taken up – she accepted that I was not a terrorist. I was issued with a record of stop & search. I wasn’t stopped from taking pictures, and I wasn’t harassed. I was told to show the record of stop and search, if were to be stopped again that day.

    I asked what I should do in future – since I didn’t want to create problems. The PCSO said report to the local Police Station before taking photos, (advice that I’m sure you’ll understand I haven’t taken).

    I should add that on the “Snow-day” which brought much of London to a standstill, I was taking photographs around Tower Bridge and the Tower of London, when two Policemen walked by and remarked that it was a wonderful morning for taking pictures – you could have knocked me down with a feather!!
  7. Kiv

    Kiv New Member

    I have only had the one stopping incident, it was near St Pauls cathedral, a major tourist location, and it came in three distinct episodes.
    1. a policeman, stopped me, was very professional, exactly how we would all want to be treated.
    2. minutes later 2 support officers stopped me and asked to see my pictures. They were fine, but not as good as the policeman.
    3. seconds later a security guard, of an office building, behind where I was taking pictures stopped me and told me that I was breaking anti terror laws by photographing buildings, and threatened me with a report to the police. I showed him the respect he deserved.
    The facts are that I have no problem being stopped and asked what I am doing, I don't even mind having pictures looked at, although there are times that I would worry about what a non photographer might think about some of them. What is unacceptable is being told that I am not allowed to take pictures. I have not had anyone in authority trying that yet, and I hope that this campaign highlights the issue and educates those that might have.
  8. Me_Here

    Me_Here New Member

    I have been stopped once by police, and although they were more than polite it still left me (as an amateur) in my own sort of terror.

    I was stopped outside the Buckingham palace in London on Feb. 25th 2008. I was taking some angled shots across the back wall barriers (ancient spike looking things) simply because they interested me. I was on the public pathway, using a small digital compact. Being an American living in the UK now everything and every nook and cranny has a potential of interest to me. They pulled the car up onto the pavement, asked what I was taking shots of, asked to see the camera and reviewed my recent photos. They didn't ask to remove them or even not to take anymore shots. They handed the camera back, said thanks for cooperating with them, and left me in my smiling, polite, & shocked state.
    After that the rest of the trip I was actually scared to take any more shots, I did force myself as we were visiting all the tourist locations, but looked more suspicious after. Looking around to see whose watching me now, wondering if I'm taking something 'suspicious' that would cause alarm with the police again. As a amateur and an American living here now, it was quite an experience.

    Although we laughed it off, the police were very polite, it still changed me as a photographer.
    Since that time I've gotten serious about my amateur photography, joined a local town flickr group, and taken up street photography, purchased a more conspicuous bridge camera and with the recent law changes or non-changes (its so unclear), its got me wondering exactly how to deal with such an incident again.

    Many of the photographers in our local group have been stopped repeatedly, some to the point of harassment some just politely as I was.
    Some of them now are convinced its now illegal for example to take photos of police while shooting street work and there are other fears as well.

    I posted here to share my experience in the hopes that it will help with the future training or clarifications of the laws that are in place, and exactly what our rights are as photographers.
    I welcome any advice that I can not only take but pass on to my group of Hastings Street Photography members on flickr.

    Thanks for reading :)
  9. Kiv

    Kiv New Member

    My only advise is to be confident about your photography and your rights.

    I am ex military police and so have experience with security and the law, but there is no reason why we all shouldn't be confident, if we just think about it logically.

    Would a real terrorist do what you are doing? of course not and the police know that. They will stop people at random, because it shows the public that they are doing something, for reassurance, but that shouldn't cause you to feel like you are being targeted for doing something wrong. The police are unlikely to think you are a threat because you are taking a photograph in public.

    I think you will find it's also a whole lot more fun to just not worry about it!
  10. Me_Here

    Me_Here New Member

    I think that is one of my points really.
    I am not absolutely clear on my rights (I have a pretty good idea, but feel that some of that maybe my interpretation of the new laws) nor do I believe most amateurs are clear on it now, and to add further to that, probably even more importantly, I don't believe that most law enforcement or security personnel are clear on my rights as a photographer either.

    Street photography takes a lot of confidence to begin with, and that takes time, I understand. Having this looming in your mind as well makes having/keeping that confidence much harder.
    Thanks for your reply Kiv :)
  11. peter2324

    peter2324 New Member

    Yes, I was stopped and question by a plain clothes police officer in Edgware Road in London. She insisted that it was illegal to take photographs that include a police station.It was only when a senior uniformed officer came along who agreed with me that this was in fact not the case that she lost interest and walked off declaring to both of us " Well, if it's not illegal it should be!"
  12. ermintrude

    ermintrude Hinkypuff

    :eek:I get the feeling the plain clothes wasnt a police officer :D :D :D
  13. sey

    sey Well-Known Member

    Kiv, you are right but the problem seems to be that in their eagerness to show the public that they are doing something, or is it in their frustration at being helpless and perhaps even incompetent, they've turned the whole security check thing into a circus and farce that often, according to the increasing reports, turns into pure public harassment and intimidation.

    I live in a country, where you can't take a breath without being security checked and for good reason. All public buildings, places of entertainment, stores, busses etc. etc. etc. etc ad infinitum have security checks. Everybody, without exception is checked umpteen times a day and it is simply a part of our daily lives, nobody gets upset or hassled, in fact if there isn't a security check at a store or anywhere, we get p**sed off and complain.

    But never have I been stopped/checked because of my cameras. Never have I been prevented from taking photographs including photographs of police, diplomats, high profile figures, military personnel etc. High-security installations where photography is forbidden are very well signed so no problem there neither.

    Believe me, 40+ years of people street photography has given me all the confidence I need. I am certainly not afraid of being stopped/arrested/questioned. The whole thing is that this ignorant, mindless, moronic harassment and intimidation by the police, part-time police wannabes, private security guards, headmistresses, councils and all other hysterical busy bodies has simply killed my appetite, taken out all the fun, enjoyment, dampened my enthusiasm and extinguished my passion for photographing the people of Britain where, as some of you know, London, a place that I visited many many times, was a favourite location for me to pursue that passion.

    It has nothing to do with fear, or lack of confidence. It is all about poisoning the atmosphere, perhaps it could be called 'cultural/emotional' pollution. It's nothing to do with my "freedoms" or civil rights. It's a lot more personal then that. It's to do with my feelings, not saying that they've been "hurt", simply that there are no longer any, no need or want to photograph the people of Britain.

    The thing that surprises me is the complete ignoring of the fact that security checking and intimidating photographers with their cameras in the street, fisherman at night (where many know that that is the best time to fish, with or without green lasers) etc. really is a total waste of time, energy and money as far as security is concerned. Perhaps it's that the police don't want themselves compromised in their incompetent dealings with the public. They don't want photographic/video evidence of their own 'mis-behaviour', to put mildly. Is it all part of the great 'cover your a**e' scheme?

    I always thought that a policeman, by law, had to identify himself if asked to. That's why their numbers a prominently displayed on their shoulders. Here they even have name badges on their chests.

    Perhaps the point is now made.
  14. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    Britain or England Sey? ;) :D Doesn't seem to be a problem in Scotland but unfortunately we all get lumped together as the UK because the laws cater for the lowest common denominator (or most likely targets here).
  15. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    England or London, for that matter...
  16. sey

    sey Well-Known Member

    well I am very tempted by the Festival, have wanted to see the Tatoo since forever, to be very honest! and seeing AlanW's Edinburgh........who knows what's in the cards. ;) :)
  17. sey

    sey Well-Known Member

    Well from the reports, the phenomenon is pretty much spread around England, at least. It's the only thing that's fair and being shared out.
  18. daft_biker

    daft_biker Action Man!

    Good to hear Sey :) I think you'll need a lot of film if you come during the festival :cool:
  19. Benchista

    Benchista Which Tyler

    Re-read this thread - every single one was in London.

    (OK, for a given value of "London" where that equates to the M25...)
  20. sey

    sey Well-Known Member

    I purposely 'ignored' you when you raised the subject before! ;)

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